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FRAMEWORKS: Psalm 51: A Recognition of Sin and Need for Cleansing


For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.


[Preliminary Comments: The content of this psalm, according to the heading, comes following the actions found in 2 Sam 12 as described above. It is the heart cry of guilty David. Again and again he appeals to the Lord for Him to deal with his sin [v.1,2,7,9,10,11,12,14]. In this man described as ‘a man after God's own heart', we see an honesty in facing up to his sin [v.1-4,9,10,14]. He does not try to make excuses, just accepting he needs God's help now.]



v.1a An appeal to the love and mercy of God


v.1  Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;

v.1b,2 An appeal for cleansing from sin


according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.

v.2  Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.


v.3 Acceptance by David if his guilt, his earthly sin which is against God


v.3  For I know my transgres sions,
    and my sin is always before me.
v.4  Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.

v.5,6 Although, like all of us, he was ‘born in sin' nevertheless God wanted relationship


v.5  Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
v.6  Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.


v.7,8 He wanted God to cleanse him so he could be restored in relationship


v.7  Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
v.8  Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

v.9,10 A Twofold request: ignore my sin and cleanse & recreate me


v.9  Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

v.10  Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

v.11-13 A request not to be cast away but to be restored to Him


v.11  Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
v.12  Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

v.13  Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.

v.14,15 A Commitment that if God cleanses him, he will praise God


v.14  Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
v.15  Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.

v.16,17 Although God doesn't want sacrifices he brings a broken spirit as a sacrifice


v.16  You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
v.17  My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.


v.18,19 He asks that Jerusalem may know a right relationship with the Lord


v.18  May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
v.19  Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.



[Additional Thoughts: The psalm is unique in the openness and honesty in facing up to his sin by David. It also reveals something of the depth of his relationship with the Lord that he asks again and again for the Lord for forgive him and cleanse him and change him. He recognises that need and realises that there is no point making excuses and only the Lord can cleanse him etc.]



Continue to Psa 52